Friday, March 23, 2007

The Simpsons : BIO

The Simpsons is an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Network. It is a satirical parody of the "Middle American" lifestyle epitomized by its title family, consisting of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie. Set in the fictional town of Springfield, the show lampoons many aspects of the human condition, as well as American culture, society as a whole and even television itself.

The family was conceived by Groening shortly before a pitch for a series of animated shorts with James L. Brooks. He sketched out his version of a dysfunctional family, and named the characters after members of his own family, substituting Bart for his own name. The shorts became a part of The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987. After a three-season run, the sketch was developed into a half-hour prime time show.

The Simpsons was an early hit for Fox, and has won several major awards. In its 1998 issue celebrating the greatest achievements in arts and entertainment of the 20th century, Time magazine named The Simpsons the century's best television series. On January 14, 2000 the Simpsons was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It is the longest-running American sitcom, as well as the longest-running American animated program. The Simpsons has been influential on popular culture. Its catchphrases have been adopted into the English lexicon. The annoyed grunt "D'oh!" has entered the English dictionary. It was cited as an influence on many adult-oriented animated sitcoms of the late 1990s.

Since its debut on December 17, 1989, 393 episodes have aired over 18 seasons. As of March 20, 2006, the show has been renewed for a 19th season, due to be aired in 2007–2008. The 18th season finale will be the 400th episode, and the 20th anniversary of The Simpsons franchise will be celebrated in 2007. A feature-length movie is currently being produced, to be released on July 27, 2007.

Original episodes of The Simpsons are shown on the Fox network in the United States, and are widely distributed internationally. Past seasons have been widely syndicated since 1994. In foreign countries, it is sometimes necessary to adjust the material to suit local culture or humor. Arabic-speaking countries are an example of this, in which they cut out or modify references to alcohol, pork and non-Muslim religions. The animation in The Simpsons makes the show more frequently dubbed in foreign countries rather than subtitled.

The Simpson family lives a "Middle American" lifestyle and is a one-income, working class family. Homer Simpson is a safety inspector at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant and a generally well-meaning buffoon. Marge Simpson is for the most part a stereotypical American housewife and mother. Bart Simpson is a ten-year-old troublemaker who thinks of himself as a rebel. Lisa Simpson is an extremely intelligent eight-year old middle child who is often involved in left-wing activism and loves playing the saxophone. Maggie Simpson is a baby who sucks on a pacifier, falls down a lot and does not speak. The family has a dog (Santa's Little Helper), a cat (Snowball II), as well as several other one-shot pets. Despite the fact that numerous yearly milestones (such as holidays or birthdays) clearly pass, the Simpsons do not physically age.

The show has a vast array of quirky supporting characters, including co-workers, teachers, family friends, extended relatives, and local celebrities. Originally, many of these characters were planned as one-shot jokes, or to fill a function in the town; a number of them gained expanded roles, and some have subsequently been the subject of their own episodes. Matt Groening stated that the idea for the many different recurring characters of The Simpsons "was very much inspired by the sketch comedy show SCTV, with all the SCTV characters in Melonville interacting" and that this made the town seem like its own little universe.

Opening sequence
The Simpsons opening sequence is one of the show's most memorable hallmarks. Almost every episode opens with the camera zooming through the show's title towards the town of Springfield. Then we follow the members of the family on their way home. Upon entering their house, they settle down on their couch to watch television. The series' distinctive theme song was composed by musician Danny Elfman in 1989, after Groening approached him requesting a "retro" style piece. This piece, which took two days to create, has been noted by Elfman as the most popular of his career.

One of the most distinctive aspects of the opening is that there are several segments that are changed from episode to episode. Bart writes something different on the blackboard. Lisa sometimes plays a different solo on her saxophone and something different happens when the family enters the living room to sit on the couch. This last segment is often the only one of the three gags to survive the process of shortening the opening for some syndicated episodes and for later episodes which needed extra time. This concept of rotating elements has been subsequently used both by Groening in Futurama, and by others, such as a newspaper headline in American Dad!.

Halloween episodes

An annual tradition is a special Halloween episode. "Treehouse of Horror" (1990) started a tradition of three separate, self-contained stories in each Halloween episode. These pieces usually involve the family in some horror, science fiction, or supernatural setting and often parody or pay homage to a famous piece of work in those genres. They always take place outside the normal continuity of the show. Although the Treehouse series is meant to be seen on Halloween, in recent years new installments have premiered after Halloween. This is due to Fox's current contract with Major League Baseball's World Series.

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